Bargain Shopping for Meal Deals/Dinner at Dino (closed)

I was raised to be a bargain shopper.  Why pay full price when you can get something on sale or at a discount store, or better yet, on sale at a discount store?  That’s pretty much my shopping philosophy today, although I will splurge at boutiques every now and then.  But Loehmann’s, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, andTarget play an important role in my menu of stores.

Dining discounts are just as important to me.  In the old days I always had an Entertainment Book in my car.  The book typically offers 50% discounts at a variety of restaurants.  The majority of the coupons were for restaurants I didn’t care about, but there were always a few gems in there that made it worthwhile.

Now, of course, there is Groupon, and Living Social, and What’s the Deal, etc.  Zagat and Open Table have gotten into the discount coupon business as well. Restaurant Week offers discount dining during select times of the year. These all now factor into my dining decisions.

Recently, I’ve discovered some deals at terrific restaurants that are available year-round, no coupon necessary. This includes the $38 Sunday night dinner at Trummers on Main and the $25 brunch at Volt (see index for my reviews).  

2941 serves a three course lunch for $24 on Monday through Friday and Restaurant Eve has a Lickety-Split Lunch for $13.50  Weekday lunches in Northern Virginia don’t work for us all, but it might be worth a field trip.  I understand that Tosca and Corduroy offer good deals as well.

My most recent value meal was at Dinoin Cleveland Park.  This was one of those opportune times when I was able to use my Living Social coupon and apply it to a $38 three course Italian dinner, which makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery.

I select the risotto to start, which has recently been recommended by a friend.  Ingredients include chanterelle mushrooms and grana cheese.  The portion is sized nicely, it has a rich and creamy texture, and the flavors are delicate and satisfying.  My husband starts with Fonduta D’Aglio which is a fondue of roasted garlic, gorgonzola and sweet spiced onion, which is spread on crostini.  A yummy beginning for us both.

I choose a special for my entree called Capesante.  It consists of “elephant’s trunk” scallops, aperol butter sauce, and sauteed pea shoots.  The sauce is pleasantly tangy, and I particularly like the pea shoots.  But the scallops lack seasoning and are a disappointment.  I decide to add sea salt to my one remaining scallop, which definitely improves it.

My husband selects the Rockfish Selvaggio special, which has a creamy tomato sauce with sauteed veggies and grilled winter squash.  He is particularly complimentary of the vegetables, and says that the fish is not over-salted, which is a pleasant surprise as too many times he finds fish in restaurants to be over-salted.

For dessert I order the Sorbetti Fatti in Casa, which includes three sorbets and is described as “spirited, for adults only.”  It includes ginger, lime & Bluecoat gin, Concord grape & Pimms , and Bosc, Rothman pear liqueur & Hangar One.  I find the alcohol taste way too strong, and while some may appreciate these flavors, I do not.  My husband has the ianduia “Nico,”   bittersweet chocolate gelato with chopped chocolate,  hazelnut gelato with toasted hazelnuts, chocolate sauce and amaretto whipped cream.  He is happy.  I detest hazelnuts, so I am less so, since I cannot even taste his dessert.

I find Dino to be is more than the sum of its parts. There is no element of the meal that I can describe as fabulous, but still I am left feeling as if I have had a solid dining experience.  Good food.  Good value.  There is always a place in my life for fine dining.  However, I greatly appreciate those restaurateurs who understand that there is something quite valuable about a value meal.

Dino, 435 Connecticut Avenue NW, Cleveland Park, Washington DC

My rating (on a 1-5 scale):   3.75
Zagat rating:  22

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  1. I am very fond of Dean ("Dino"), and his wife Kay, and am thus thrilled that you enjoyed the restaurant. Dean was the long time cheese buyer for Whole Foods when he decided to open his restaurant. Very nice people, plus, they actually had a Hannukah menu.

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